You wake up to your alarm sounding off, only to realize that you’re also waking up to a tickle in your throat. It’s annoying, but bearable. So grab some lozenges and orange juice on your way to the office and you’ll be fine.

Until you wake up the next morning with a runny nose and a pounding in your head. As hard as you tried to avoid the nasty bug that’s been making its rounds at the office, it’s finally caught up with you.

So, do you stay home and sleep it off? Or pick up some non-drowsy cold medication and tough it out at the office?

Don’t: pass along the plague

I’m no doctor, but I’m going to give you some doctor’s orders.

If you’re sniffling, sneezing or finding other ways to spread your germs, please stay home. You may feel like the office superstar for showing up to work even when you’re feeling under the weather – but trust me, no one is going to appreciate you when they fall victim to whatever illness you’ve brought into the office.

Sure, Okay.. If all you’ve got is a bit of a runny nose, grab an extra box of tissues for your desk and some hand sanitizer and get some work done. But anything more than that, and you better be picking up the phone to call in sick.

Don’t: try to be a hero

You’re not feeling well, which means you’re probably not going to be great at your job today either. And even if you’re taking non-drowsy medication, it may still have side effects that may get in the way of your productivity.

I know you’re thinking that if you show up to work and at least do something, it’s probably better than not showing up and doing nothing at all, but studies have shown that employees who try to push their health aside in an effort to be a better employee aren’t really helping themselves or their employers – when you’re not at optimum health, you’re more likely to mess up and you’re unable to do your job effectively or efficiently.

So you can just save yourself the headache and save your co-workers from catching whatever you’ve got and take the day to stay in bed, rest and get better, faster (hopefully). Or if you absolutely must get some work done, do it remotely – from home.

Do: put yourself and your health first

Making the decision to stay home instead of suffering through the work day feeling sick sounds so basic and yet, so many of us don’t do it. Trust me, trust yourself we all know staying home not only saves your co-workers from possibly catching whatever you have – it gives you a chance to rest and recover. Even the most innocent case of sniffles can quickly turn into an exhausting cold if you choose to ignore the fact that your body is calling out for some serious TLC and you continue to stress yourself out at the office.

Yes, you might feel some guilt for taking the day off, but in the long run – even just one day can do wonders for your body and overall health. Help your immune system — help you. Allowing yourself one or two days to rest and give your body time to heal might be a beneficial trade off to the possibility of your bug getting worse because you refuse to take time to practice some personal T-L-C.

Do: prepare for the worst

Unfortunately, you can’t always predict when you’re going to get sick. And it’s a rare person that remains untouched year after year. So, in the case that you do, there are ways to help you feel less guilty about staying away from your desk for a day or two.

Should you unexpectedly come down with something and have to stay home, it doesn’t hurt to keep an organized list outlining any daily protocols or tasks specific to your role at the office, accessible to co-workers and even your boss. This way, anyone who takes on your workload while you’re away won’t get completely frustrated trying to complete your tasks on top of their own. Make sure the list is easily accessible – tucked away in a visibly labelled folder, cabinet, or a shared file on the company’s network – and includes detailed instructions that may be unique to certain situations. Save everyone else the headache and frustration of trying to figure out how to do your job.

When you prepare for the possibility that you might get sick one day, you’ll feel less guilty about taking time off to take care of yourself when you’re sick, recover quicker and be ready to come back to the team before you know it.

I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

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